Recommendation: Pretty solid read, though it doesn’t quite reach its full potential. If you like Young Adult you might want to own it. But, its worth a borrow for anyone.
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Team, I’m disappointed. I really thought someone was going to win the Great Giveaway Game on this one. But, I’ll press on anyways. Today we’re looking at Every Day by David Levithan. Levithan is a pretty big name in Young Adult world (not quite the mega-star that John Green is, but it’s not really fair to compare anyone to John Green right now). Every Day is a solid little book and it’s a really really interesting premise, so let’s dive right in.
A is just an ordinary teenager living out an ordinary life. You know, school, video games, practices, waking up every day in a different teenager’s body, etc. Girl, boy, fat, skinny, gay, straight, popular, nerdy, A has seen and been a part of it all. Most days A just tries to stick with the norm, keep the body’s life on its track and not do anything outrageous. But, one day, A wakes up in Justin’s body. Justin is a pretty typical dude, with one really special addition. He has a girlfriend named Rhiannon. And A falls in love with her. Pretty soon he finds himself taking his hosts on adventures just for the chance to speak to Rhiannon again. And the journey to find love with Rhiannon takes A on a path that gets increasingly complicated.
There are a lot of really interesting things that Levithan is able to do with this idea. You get to see how one person would react when everything about his life is constantly changing. You get to see A deal with being in the body of different genders, people with different interests, different dispositions, different values and it is all really imaginative and really fun. The best part about it is what Levithan brings to the table when displaying the competition between A’s self-interest and his attempts to maintain the status quo of his body’s life. It takes that crucial step (that I love love love in books) where the story looks beyond the every day physics and actually explores the moral implications of the character’s life. It’s always dangerous for this to happen because it is so easy for the author to slip into Soapbox Mode and tell you how to live a good life and how to live a bad life and, let’s be real, nobody likes people telling them what to do. For the most part, Levithan is able to avoid the larger pitfalls in this area. He does get a little preachy with his homosexual hosts, venturing into the politics of why they should be able to live in the open and get married. It’s the right message, but it isn’t done very elegantly and it will take you out of A’s tale.
What this book fails to accomplish is a full exploration of its universe. The love story with Rhiannon is good and it is interesting to see how the entire thing develops since A is always a different person but, honestly, it ends up dominating the book more than it should. Everything is put on the back burner for young love. And, maybe if A was actually an average teen I would buy it, but s/he is soooo not normal. There is an entire second story line about A discovering the possibility of other body-jumpers like himself…but he doesn’t seem to care about it at all after he meets Rhiannon. I’m sorry, but that is insane. Yes, I was a teenager once. Yes, I know how strong those initial tugs of first love are. But, I still had other things that interested me and, if I was a body-jumper who had no idea where I came from, how I exist, or if there are other people like me, I think the discovery of other body-jumpers would be a little higher on my daily to-do list. And by a little higher, I mean it should at least be equivalently important to hanging out with the girl you like. So yes, it is good, it is creative, it is original, it is romantic, it is a good story. But, it could have been one of those young adult books that crosses over into the “I don’t care who you are or how old you are, you need to read this book” territory and it never fully got there.